This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Traditional hylomorphism

This brings us to the classical theory of hylomorphism, which states that beings are not purely material composites but are the union of form (the vertical, qualitative dimension) and matter (pertaining to the horizontal, quantitative dimension). Hylomorphism explains that the qualities possessed by material bodies are the result of a form which, in a sense, ‘descends’ into the matter and acts as the ordering principle for the bodies of material beings. The form ‘inheres’ in the matter and any material additions or rearrangements are the result of the presence of form. Since the form is ‘qualitative,’ it is on account of the presence of form that the being makes its ascent through various states and acquires new qualities that the matter alone did not possess. The qualities that emerge are understood as the expression of those qualities possessed by the form from the beginning. In Christianity this is part of the traditional anthropology and its most famous formulation is that “the soul is the form of the body.”

A form can be described as the aggregate of qualities pertaining to a being or thing, and is the individuated version of the immutable essence, the divine ‘idea,’ that is never itself manifested.

Here we can also draw attention to another contemporary debate that is solved immediately by traditional hylomorphism. It is said by some Christians that a fetus, from the moment of conception, is truly a human being. Science protests, seeing only a clump of cells devoid of any decisively human qualities. But if the soul–the form of the body–possesses the totality of qualities that define a human being, and if the form inheres in the matter of a being from the very beginning of its coming into existence, then we must admit that the ‘clump of cells,’ possessing as it must the form that is to determine its future development, does in fact possess all of the qualities of the most developed adult human. The only difference is that the possession is virtual (not yet ‘actualized’); it is real even if the qualities have not manifested themselves through material development guided by the inhering form. Moreover, the humanity of the being is just as real even if some of these qualities never become manifest due to developmental deviation or violence of some kind. In other words, the soul makes the being human and is the real reason the human body becomes what it does, and the soul is necessarily present from the earliest moment of development, which is to say, from the moment of conception.

Modern science, with all of its theories, has never been able to replace the traditional one just stated. It deals only with the horizontal dimension and refuses to deal in ‘qualities,’ much less immaterial realities like form and essence. What we have described as qualities are to modern science reducible to material quantity and its arrangements. Nothing more.

The limitations that result from such a reductive view are obvious, but what we are interested in here is the theory of evolution, which has become an all-encompassing pseudo-doctrine which explains-without-explaining everything that used to be explained in terms of hylomorphism, and in such a way that the purely quantitative limitation of modern science need not be challenged.

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